Laura Gambino, Associate Dean for Assessment and Technology of Guttman Community College (GCC), recently explained in a webinar, “If we know something works, we are going to put it into place for everyone. When a student enters Guttman, they have a guided pathway.”

Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, the newest community college in the City University of New York has seen early successes. Their educational model was designed to increase student success with a goal of reaching a 35 percent three-year graduation rate. To put this into perspective the national community college graduation rate is approximately 20 percent!

Laura shared Guttman’s guided pathways/iPASS initiatives and how they intersect to fit their educational model as an “equity driven, high impact, guided learning pathways college.”

Prospective students are required to visit campus multiple times, attend an information session and meet one-on-one or in a group with a peer mentor to discuss what their journey will look like. They are also required to participate in a summer bridge program. Last year, GCC unanimously decided to incorporate Starfish by Hobsons, into their student success initiatives. They chose the success solutions: Starfish Early Alert and Connect.

GCC faculty and advisors are required to complete a five-hour professional development workshop on Starfish and how to use it thoroughly during the bridge program. The workshop demonstrates the systems capabilities. They will learn about key components including how to complete a progress survey, how to discover which students might benefit from extra academic support, and using notifications like kudos.

The GCC educational model has three focus areas:

1. Summer Bridge Program

The bridge program is a requirement for all first-year students and introduces students to the Guttman community, its educational model, and coursework. Students create an ePortfolio and are introduced to the Starfish platform. The goal is to provide them with a sense of ownership, which lets them know they can be proactive when using the platform. For example, they learn about Starfish functions such as making appointments with faculty and staff.

2. First Year Experience

Within the first couple weeks of the school year, GCC’s instructional team reviews the list that was generated from the progress survey to see if they can bridge ‘concerned flags’ by referring students to a peer mentor to receive academic support. Faculty found value in the attendance feature, which serves as a way for students to view their attendance history. In return this will allow students to take ownership of their actions and draw the connection between their attendance record and their educational goals. 

3. Programs of Study

By students second year, instructional teams are no longer meeting and Starfish becomes a critical communication tool allowing students to connect with their career strategists and program coordinator(s). The notes field is also a valuable feature to help the faculty and career strategists to ensure tasks are completed.  Students are also expected to make their own appointments with faculty and career strategists. The hope is that students see the connection between their curriculum, portfolio, education planning, flags/kudos, and their use of Starfish.  Seeing this connection should help them develop a sense of purpose and self-direction at Guttman. Students continue to see the benefit from using Starfish through the key focus areas.

Here are a couple takeaways:

  • Over 75% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they found Starfish helpful to schedule office hours/appointments and receiving kudos increased their motivation to succeed.
  • Almost 70% agreed or strongly agreed that receiving flag notifications in Starfish Early Alert helped improve their performance.

Learn more about the GCC approach and implementation by listening to the webinar here.

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